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The Nearshore Network - Instrumenting Lake Tahoe

Parameters: Chlorophyll, DOM, Turbidity

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) has been working to launch the world’s first, real-time Nearshore Network comprised of approximately 20 sites around the Tahoe basin. The first six stations, spanning both California and Nevada, were installed in August.

Each station consists of a Turner Designs C3 Submersible Sensor measuring turbidity, algal concentration, and dissolved organic material along with a RBRmaestro multi-channel logger measuring water temperature and conductivity. An underwater cable supplies power to each station and returns data, which are displayed as near real-time and can be accessed via the internet. More stations will be added in the future as additional funding is acquired.

Why are these nearshore data so important? Unlike the deep portion of the lake, the nearshore is subject to sudden erratic changes in water quality. These changes occur in response to storms, inflows from streams and storm drains, local erosion, or drift from other parts of the lake. Every part of the nearshore responds differently. The Nearshore Network will allow scientists and agencies to better understand the causes of degradation, to better implement projects to mitigate degradation, and to determine appropriate and meaningful threshold standards for nearshore conditions.

Data are directly comparable to identical measurements being taken at one of the mid-lake buoys, a collaboration with NASA-JPL. In this way, it will be possible to relate the evolving nearshore conditions with conditions at the center of the lake. Data will also be used to educate the public through online displays at TERC’s Tahoe Science Center and other locations around the basin.

Funding for this project (along with access to docks) is being provided through a unique partnership between lakefront property owners, private donors in the Tahoe basin, instrument manufacturers, and TERC. Each donor is supporting the operation of one nearshore sensor for a minimum of four years. This unique partnership is enabling the collection of a consistent water quality data set for the area of the lake that most people come in contact with.

Six Nearshore Network instrument transportation cases and cables aligned in the Tahoe City Field Station.

A real-time nearshore water quality station being tested in Lake Tahoe.

Institution: UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC)California & Nevada, USA

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